NI Conservatives’ economy spokesman, Johnny Andrews, has described news that the Michelin tyre factory in Ballymena will close in 2018 as “horrifying”. He said the closure, which will cost 860 jobs, is, “an indictment of an Executive which has failed manufacturing employees and hasn’t got to grips with the economic problems in Northern Ireland”.
Mr Andrews continued, “first and foremost this is devastating news to the workers and their families. The Michelin factory has been a mainstay in County Antrim and makes an enormous contribution to that area’s economy, as well as the Northern Ireland economy more generally. This also comes just ahead of another major manufacturer in Ballymena, JTI, starting to make redundancies, ahead of the closure of its operation. The timing is just terrible.”
“Michelin has cited Northern Ireland’s huge energy costs, as a major reason for its decision. That’s an indictment of an Executive which keeps losing jobs in manufacturing. Whereas manufacturers in the US have enjoyed reduced energy prices, thanks to shale gas, we’ve got the highest energy costs in the EU. The Executive must act to ensure Northern Ireland is competitive on all fronts energy costs, employment law, red tape and infrastructure to name a few.
Northern Ireland continues to lag the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland and is dependent on a few very large companies. Conservatives have highlighted these issues countless times before and urged the Executive to get its act together. How many more jobs will be lost before the failing parties at Stormont wake up and tackle the real issues of why Northern Ireland is uncompetitive?"